Developer salaries are a hot topic around the world. A recent study by Tunga, a Dutch IT staff augmentation provider, shows the most financially rewarding African countries for developers. South Africa comes first, followed by Morocco and Tunisia.
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It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out as a coder or if you’re already well established. You should have a good idea of what a reasonable salary is for your job in the country where a developer lives. The figures presented by Tunga have been adjusted with the average and high salaries of developers in each country for the local cost of living. And doing this for African countries from north to south and east to west, the research shows a good picture of the most interesting countries to work in as a developer – purely from a financial point of view, of course.
Now with the numbers, it will come as no surprise that South Africa takes home the cake with an average salary of $2,166.60/month. This amount is almost double that of their number two and reflects South Africa’s relatively advanced economy. As shown in Figure 1, Moroccan coders are the second highest earners ($1,154.16), followed by Kenyans ($893.39). Nigeria ($664.38) and Uganda ($643.97), with Ethiopia at the very bottom ($219.95).
So what about high earners? Where should these super experienced and talented developers go in Africa to earn the most? Figure 2 tells you everything. Again, the answer is South Africa ($3726.64), followed by Morocco ($2505.59) and Zimbabwe ($1974.99). The bottom three countries are Egypt ($1,004.50), Senegal ($650.77), and Ethiopia ($394.55).
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At $3726.64, South Africa’s top earners earn 1.7 times that country’s average. This difference between the average salaries and the highs – in the language of statistics: the spread – varies considerably between our 17 countries. The spread in Nigeria is remarkable: Nigerian coders with the biggest paychecks earn 2.5 times the national average! See Table 1 for details.
|Country||Distribution of salary levels||Country||Distribution of salary levels||Country||Distribution of salary levels|
It is unclear why this gap in salary levels is as large as in some countries, but Tunga makes some assumptions:
- The most obvious explanation is that the gap is simply a reflection of the different general wage levels in big cities and less urbanized areas.
- A high spread score can also indicate a growing demand for coders in that country, where new hires earn higher salaries much faster than developers who stay in their jobs. This seems a likely explanation: in a dynamic and growing technological environment, developers are increasingly in demand, which leads to upward pressure on salaries.
Overall Software Developer Salaries
After adjusting the salaries for the cost of living, they calculated the final salaries, dividing the salary level by the index score. It should be noted that the index score has been benchmarked to South Africa. Morocco’s adjusted salary of $1,569.11 in Figure 3 by itself is meaningless. The number should be interpreted as the salary the developer would earn if based in South Africa (also compare the salaries for South Africa in Figure 1 and Figure 3, below which are the same). By performing this calculation for all 17 African countries, we now have an idea of the attractiveness of a country for a developer, compared to other countries.
This information makes it possible to better understand the purchasing power of African promoters. Figure 4 shows that with the exception of Egypt, our North African countries are the most attractive for developers. This is the result of relatively high wages and a low cost of living. Next come the countries of East Africa (including Egypt). The least attractive countries for coders are in West Africa, but Ethiopia is at the very bottom.
To complete the picture, Tunga has created a plot diagram that shows the most attractive countries for high-end developers. Figure 5 gives an overview, the red line being an average.
The countries on the bottom right (Ethiopia, Senegal and Ivory Coast) are the least attractive, due to a high cost of living and low salaries. The preferred locations are top left: Morocco and Kenya. While the cost of living in South Africa is high, research shows that the expense is offset by the high salaries. The reverse seems to be true for Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Uganda. There, the cost of living is so low that it more than compensates for the relatively low salary level.
Of course, people don’t just pack their bags and leave just for the money. The local population, nature, culture, quality of life and many other factors also weigh in this decision. And as a developer, you also need a good technological environment. The research, however, neglects to mention the factors of the starving US software developer market which is recently hiring remote African developers and paying well above the averages cited above.
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